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How and why to indulge in chocolate to boost health and weight loss

Cocoa beans can boost your weight loss, says a new study.
Cocoa beans can boost your weight loss, says a new study.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Most recommendations for losing weight are not particularly tasty. Push away the pizza, dump the doughnuts: You know the routine. Now a new study is brightening dieters' days with a delicious change: Eat chocolate to boost your weight loss, reported Forbes on April 2.

After testing cocoa compounds, researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute discovered that oligomeric procyanidins (PCs) are the key to preventing weight gain, whittling your waistline and even regulating blood glucose levels. The latter result implies that chocolate also could help treat diabetes.

“Oligomeric PCs appear to possess the greatest antiobesity and antidiabetic bioactivities of the flavanols in cocoa, particularly at the low doses employed for the present study,"said lead researcher Andrew P. Neilson.

In addition, a recent study at Harvard University found that chocolate can reduce your blood pressure while enhancing your overall health with its dose of antioxidants.

However, noted researchers, it must be dark chocolate to qualify for the full benefits. Most studies use 100 grams of dark chocolate, although some use less, with the emphasis of high quality dark chocolate.

Our tip: Keep the amount small for weight loss. Example: We like nibbling on Hershey's Sugar Free Semi-Sweet Baking Chips (click for details).

Nutritionist and neuroscientist Dr. Will Clower does more than agree: He says that he's treated patients with a "chocolate prescription" that has helped them to lose more than a hundred pounds.

As a result, Dr. Clower has concocted his own weight loss plan that requires you to eat that daily dose of delicious stuff: "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight: New Science Proves You Should Eat Chocolate Every Day" (click for details).

Also sending his patients off to chocolate boot camp is Dr. Yoni Freedhoff. After researching obesity and treating overweight patients for years, he developed his new weight loss plan, which he detailed in a recent interview with Global News.

The Canadian physician devoted nine years to fine-tuning a weight loss plan that worked for all his patients. Now he has it, and he's detailed it in his new book: "The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work."

Freedhoff challenges "what society teaches as the requirements to success. That if you want to lose weight you need to want it badly enough to go hungry, to give up foods you love, and to go on black-garbage-bag-cupboard-cleaning binges of junky (but often delicious) foods.

"Society is also taught that if you can’t do those things forever it’s because you personally failed rather than your diet," he criticizes.

And so Freedhoff rewrote the conventional weight loss guidelines - and that meant bringing chocolate on board.

"Adding chocolate was just one piece in an overarching change in my philosophy surrounding weight management which in turn was my shift from thinking that BMI or other measures (waist to hip ratios, body fat percentiles) were useful," he explained.

Instead, I embraced a concept that I call “best weight,” where a person’s “best” weight is whatever weight a person reaches living the healthiest life that they honestly enjoy, and for most, that life will indeed include chocolate.

Freeing patients from believing that the scale was their arbiter of success and explicitly reminding people that food isn’t simply fuel but also plays real roles in comfort and celebration enabled them a great deal more success in sustainable, long-term, change.

The most common mistake when it comes to weight loss: Complicating what it takes, says Freedhoff. His simplified tips include:

  • Cook from fresh whole ingredients as often as you can.
  • Exercise as much as you can enjoy but not more.
  • Brown bag lunch.
  • Eat out for special occasions only.
  • Really try to decrease the liquid calories and use a food diary to figure out what you’re actually eating.
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